It seems like only yesterday I walked out of the office and started my maternity leave, full of excitement for the next chapter I had ahead of me. That was 13 months ago, a long time when you say it out loud. Yet here I am, sat here with my work bag packed, my lunch made, my clothes freshly ironed, ready for my first day back in work tomorrow. My maternity leave is officially over……and I’m quaking in my TopShop Chelsea boots!
I’m lucky that I’ll only be returning to work part time but that doesn’t make the thought any less daunting. It’s the end of an era. I’ll no longer be a full time mummy, I’m saying goodbye to a time I’ll never get back, a time when it’s just me and my baby. But the reality is, he’s not a baby anymore. He no longer relies solely on me, he’s growing into a chatty, inquisitive, independent little boy.
The truth is, he’s probably a bit bored of my company by now, and if he could talk he’d say he’s excited to be spending a few days with daddy and nanny when I’m at work, as he knows he’ll be fussed over and have their full attention. He’ll be looking forward to wrapping them around his little finger like he has done with me. He probably won’t even notice I’m gone for those few hours each day, barely taking a moment to stop and miss me.
But I’ll miss him. I’ll miss my shadow, my mini-me, my little bestie, my miracle baby.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, maternity leave has been far from easy. The first few months are a blur, memories of Post Natal Depression still haunt me and it all passed by in a haze of sleepless nights. There were many days where we didn’t leave the house at all, instead we stayed indoors, shutting the world out. We didn’t go to one single baby class, or meet up with any fellow mum’s for coffee mornings. At the time I didn’t see an issue with this, but now it’s time to return to work I’m having a massive attack of mummy guilt. Did I waste our time off together? Should I have done more? Was Max bored?
But I know deep down it doesn’t really matter if we didn’t quite make it to that baby sensory class. What matters is I spent every waking minute keeping my baby safe, cuddling him close, encouraging him to reach those all important milestones.
Whilst Max has been busy smashing his way through those milestones, getting his first tooth and learning his first word, my first day back in the office is probably my most important milestone as his mum. My priorities have changed. I’m no longer the care free, capable woman I once was. My brain is full of baby related ‘stuff’ and I’m worried there’s no space in there for work related ‘stuff’. I need to switch from planning my day around the next episode of In the Night Garden to planning my day around meetings and deadlines.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. I am looking forward to being me for a few days a week, being referred to as ‘Jo’ rather than ‘Mama’, talking about something other than nappies and baby sick, and dressing in something other than leggings and jumpers.
So when I sit at my desk tomorrow morning I’ll focus on the positives….the hot cups of tea and the peaceful wees. And in those moments of uninterrupted peace I’ll use them to reflect on our amazing time together so far and look forward to all the important memories we are yet to make.